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Social Media and the Age of Microcomplaints (nytimes.com) 119

An anonymous reader writes: "Name an inequity, and it is highly likely that social media has helped call meaningful attention to it, if not started and hashtagged a movement," claims the NY Times. The article suggests people are much more willing to complain about meaningless issues now that they have a public audience. "The smartphone in particular has facilitated extemporaneous caviling. Irritations that the passage of time may have soothed can, in the moment, be immediately expressed to an audience." Further, an aggrieved social media post can lend more weight to a minor problem than the author ever intended, or than it deserved. An offhand tweet can lead to a nationwide media frenzy as people who aren't connected with a complaint's author lack perspective and emotional context for it.
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Social Media and the Age of Microcomplaints

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  • Solution (Score:5, Funny)

    by Hognoxious ( 631665 ) on Monday November 16, 2015 @10:39AM (#50939563) Homepage Journal

    Just microignore them.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 16, 2015 @10:40AM (#50939571)

    When I first read the term, I was confused. When I first read the tumblr about it, I was fluctuating between disgust and amusement.

    Now that I'm thinking about it, I think they have the term right. 1000 microaggressions makes a milliaggression, and 1000 milliaggressions form one standard aggression.
    Since most of us deal with dozens of aggressions each day, this provides a proper reference frame for just how blatantly sheltered and whiny anyone who counts microaggressions must be. Yes, all of you counting microaggressions, you can take my derision and disgust at your fragility as 1.13 milliagressions.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Careful, you might give someone PTSD over this post.

    • Yeah, I think that scale sounds about right, since there's generally a one-in-a-million chance of my giving a shit about someone being offended.
    • If your calculations are correct, then my reasoning is as follows:

      When somebody accuses me of a microaggression, that's when I know I have to step it up a notch to a full-blown aggression. I don't like doing anything in a small way. With your calculations, though, it sounds like way too much work to get overly aggressive. So, I think I'll just stick to being normally aggressive and insult everybody an equal amount (wouldn't want to be perceived as unfair, now would I?), and let all be offended the same. Oh,
    • When I first read the term, I was confused

      Just think of them as crybullies, then it makes more sense. WTF is "microagression" anyway?

    • Personally, if someone accuses me of a microaggression I will not be satisfied until they have received at minimum a full five aggressions from me. If they are a vegan or feminist, which is almost a certainty, they may receive a decaaggresion instead.
  • by RogueWarrior65 ( 678876 ) on Monday November 16, 2015 @10:43AM (#50939587)

    There are far to many people walking around in a fog of narcissism thinking that everything is about them. Take, for example, that pretentious asshat that is Bono commenting on the Paris attacks saying that the terrorists were targeting music. News flash, Bono, this isn't about you.

    • by bluefoxlucid ( 723572 ) on Monday November 16, 2015 @10:47AM (#50939619) Journal
      There are too many news articles about morons getting their panties in a twist over a Christmas sweater or a red cup.
      • by thedonger ( 1317951 ) on Monday November 16, 2015 @11:00AM (#50939741)

        There are too many news articles about morons getting their panties in a twist over a Christmas sweater or a red cup.

        There are far more "news" articles about people getting the panties in a twist over a Christmas cup than there are people getting their panties in a twist over a Christmas cup.

        • by Anonymous Coward
          The red cup was brilliant P. R.
        • by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Monday November 16, 2015 @11:11AM (#50939843) Homepage

          Which is pretty much what the summary says ... a trifling thing gets a wide audience, and the fact that is gets a wide audience gives it a bigger audience.

          Basically social media is vacuous and self-referential, and the most trivial crap can get widespread attention for no good reason.

          I'm sure a tweet about some kid getting grounded can go viral and cause the entire world to start fretting over some kid who got grounded.

          Hell, it seems tailor-made to feed the careers of useless people like the Kardashians who are famous for ... well, nothing actually other than being famous and fucking famous people.

        • There are far more "news" articles about "news" articles about people getting their panties in a twist over a Christmas cup than there are "news" articles about people getting their panties in a twist over a Christmas cup.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      The day my life became amazing was the day I realized that people spend far, far, far less time thinking about me as I do thinking about how they think about me.

    • There are far to many people walking around in a fog of narcissism thinking that everything is about them.

      Well, isn't that kind the entire point of social media? Taking every aspect of your life and broadcasting as if it was some earth-shattering news?

      It's all about narcissism and thinking everything revolves around you. I thought that was the business model.

      • by Quirkz ( 1206400 )

        Well, isn't that kind the entire point of social media? Taking every aspect of your life and broadcasting as if it was some earth-shattering news?

        Is it? I would have said the merit of social media was the ability to share selected items with a particular audience that mostly can't be there in person. But probably I'm doing it wrong.

    • There are far to many people walking around in a fog of narcissism thinking that everything is about them.

      They've always been around.

      It's one of the reasons that the smartphone is blamed for making people stupid.

      No, there are just as many stupid or smart people around as before. The unfortunate part is that things like computers and smartphones now put technology in the hands of the stupid, so now we have to listen to them bitch, whine, and say stupid things.

      • IMHO, it's much worse now. People are seeing people like the Kardashians being famous for being famous and they are envious of that lifestyle. They too want fame and fortune that they haven't earned. That attitude bleeds over into people's daily lives. Next time you're driving around, notice how many people pull a full car-length past the painted stop line before they even consider stopping and how they would likely skip stopping if nobody was watching them because they are oh-so-important.

      • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

        It's one of the reasons that the smartphone is blamed for making people stupid.

        No, there are just as many stupid or smart people around as before. The unfortunate part is that things like computers and smartphones now put technology in the hands of the stupid, so now we have to listen to them bitch, whine, and say stupid things.

        Well, wasn't one of the primary goals of the internet is to make everyone a publisher?

        Of course, I'm sure we HOPED people would use the communications ability of the Internet for goo

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) <mojoNO@SPAMworld3.net> on Monday November 16, 2015 @11:08AM (#50939825) Homepage

      TFA is flamebait. The second link is about how the media whips it up into a frenzy, not individuals. The first link is just the standard attack on millennials, who instead of complaining to their spouses complain on Twitter. The worst part is that the millennials actually have the right idea, because they get results. Companies hate having their support issues done in public, because they can't just fob the customer off or ignore them.

    • by gsslay ( 807818 )

      Except Bono never said that music was being "targeted" or implied it was anything about him.

      "This is the first direct hit on music that we've had in this so-called War on Terror or whatever it's called,"

      Which can just as easily mean music is just collateral damage.

      Your comment is the perfect example of someone being outraged at someone being upset based on something they didn't say. Which is exactly what one of TFAs is complaining about.

      • Oh, don't mind him - right or wrong, he's mad because he's only number 2 [youtube.com]

      • by RogueWarrior65 ( 678876 ) on Monday November 16, 2015 @01:48PM (#50941247)

        Meh. For him to make this comment suggests that he thinks the other six attacks were irrelevant. Had he said that this was an attack on western civilization/values/activities/way-of-life I would agree with him. Where was he when Charlie Hebdo was attacked? The fact that a concert was attacked is irrelevant. It was a large soft target that happened to coincide with an exhibition soccer game and Friday night recreational activities when nobody had their guard up.

        • by gsslay ( 807818 )

          Had he said that this was an attack on western civilization/values/activities/way-of-life I would agree with him.

          Yeah. That kind of observation would have made for a really insightful and original quote. Thanks Bono, you've just said what absolutely everyone else has already said.

          Where was he when Charlie Hebdo was attacked?

          I've no idea. Maybe no-one was looking for a comment off him at the time, because, as we've already all agreed, it wasn't about him.

          What is about him is that he was scheduled to have a gig in Paris directly after a similar gig had ended tragically and violently. So people wanted to know whether he intended going ahead, and what he had to

  • Goes both ways (Score:5, Interesting)

    by cdrudge ( 68377 ) on Monday November 16, 2015 @10:50AM (#50939649) Homepage

    Microcomplaints may make a mountain out of a mole hill, but it may also give management (or at least someone higher up the food chain) and opportunity to earn back business.

    Several years ago I ordered a mattress online at Sam's club. I waited for it to be delivered. And waited. And waited. After missing several dates it turns out that their vendor screwed up the order and it never even went into manufacturing despite being told that it had really been shipped. None of the CSRs at Sam's club or the vendor really cared about me or gave me any options other than keep waiting. Walmart Corporate got a hold of me after I posted several microcomplaints online and satisfied my situation much in my benefit within a few hours. Instead of losing my business forever (especially since a Costco just recently opened, they earned it back).

    • Re:Goes both ways (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Ol Olsoc ( 1175323 ) on Monday November 16, 2015 @11:03AM (#50939771)

      Walmart Corporate got a hold of me after I posted several microcomplaints online and satisfied my situation much in my benefit within a few hours. Instead of losing my business forever (especially since a Costco just recently opened, they earned it back).

      Those were not microcomplaints on your part. That was a legit response to bad service.

      A microcomplaint is something like getting all pissed off about the font on the mattress not being bold instead of regular. Or taking a snowflake off of a coffee cup and igniting a shitstorm.

      Or me complaining that microcomplaint annoys my spell checker.

      • Walmart Corporate got a hold of me after I posted several microcomplaints online and satisfied my situation much in my benefit within a few hours. Instead of losing my business forever (especially since a Costco just recently opened, they earned it back).

        Those were not microcomplaints on your part. That was a legit response to bad service.

        A microcomplaint is something like getting all pissed off about the font on the mattress not being bold instead of regular. Or taking a snowflake off of a coffee cup and igniting a shitstorm.

        Or me complaining that microcomplaint annoys my spell checker.

        It's also something like complaining about your coffee being called black, or language that is not about race being suddenly about it--and, arguably, are more reflective of the person making the complaint than anything else. It suggests that they are viewing the world through a filter of race, religion, or the like.

        Though, I do agree the plain red cups were a mistake--they look more like somebody effed up the cup order. If what we were being promised is, say, a gradual appearance of seasonal symbols, I'd

      • Welcome to Slashdot, Truth Seeker! The 1st pair of letters is "NJ".
    • I wouldn't call any of your problems micro-complaints. Not being delivered on promised dates can be grounds for you to cancel the whole thing and get 100% refund. It may have been micro-complaints if the van that delivered the mattress looked trashy. Or how the delivery guys tracked mud onto your kitchen tile. etc.
    • I'd stick with Costco. They have a very member-oriented attitude -- extra year warranty on electronics, generous return policy if you have any problems with the product and can't make headway with the manufacturer.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 16, 2015 @10:57AM (#50939709)

    An offhand tweet can lead to a nationwide media frenzy

    Like those tweets last year that kicked off the biggest video game moral panic since Columbine? Or would Slashdot prefer to keep singing that tune?

    • Woulf you mind letting us know which tune we're supposed to be singing? So far all you've done is reference an event.

      • by Mashiki ( 184564 ) <mashiki@NOspAm.gmail.com> on Monday November 16, 2015 @08:57PM (#50944415) Homepage

        That'd be the one where the media decided to smear gamers as "worse than isis, terrorists, terrorist supporters, harassers, misogynists," and three dozen other things. It hasn't stopped, if gamers at this point can be blamed for something the media does it. Even if facts don't fit the evidence, because it's convenient.

        • Firstly it's not clear why slashdot is supposed to singing that tune. Or are you just referencing the vent again?

          Nonetheless, I think you're confused. Ignoring your wild hyperbole about "worse than ISIS", the media didn't decide that gaters were worse than misogynists and harassers, they divided gaters *were* misogynists and harassers.

          But then doxxing someone and following up with phone calls about rape threats pretty much nails both definitions.

          • by Mashiki ( 184564 )

            I'm not engaging in hyperbole. Devin Faraci was the "worse than ISIS" statements, and did an article on that, on top of the "he(sic) has more respect for ISIS.". And the media sure did decide, which is why you saw 14+ articles all coming out on the same day declaring gamers "over, dead, and no longer having to be your audience." Not to mention months of "GG is dead, but we're going to insert GG into everything and blame them for everything that's going wrong." Even the CBC's ombudsman agrees that the CB

            • I'm not engaging in hyperbole. Devin Faraci was the "worse than ISIS" statements,

              If that's true, then the guy's a moron. Of course, cherry picking one example and painting all of the media is kind of silly. Fox and Breitbard are also part of the media. One could cherry pick one of those and say "the media" paints Birmingham is a Muslim only town (for example) or something equally silly.

              • by Mashiki ( 184564 )

                If that's true, then the guy's a moron. Of course, cherry picking one example and painting all of the media is kind of silly. Fox and Breitbard are also part of the media. One could cherry pick one of those and say "the media" paints Birmingham is a Muslim only town (for example) or something equally silly.

                Yes that's sadly true. Feel free to google his name and slap in isis and you'll see. That unfortunately isn't cherry picking one example. Since you can go to wired, gawker, kotaku, hackernews, various newspapers and they all print the same "gamergate is full of terrorists, misogynists, and rapists." With evidence that doesn't even exist. Strangely, at least in the cases where the media has printed stuff on Birgingham I haven't seen them say that it's a Muslim only town. Rather, that the local council

                • Oh well done. How very smooth.

                  First you find one nutjob who calls them worse than ISIS (I've not checked---for sake of argument I won't dispute it). You then say "unfortunately isn't cherry picking one example." but move straight on to less and less and less extreme versions.

                  Makes it look like people comparing them to ISIS is common, without actually saying that. Very well done. Have you considered working as a spin doctor for a political party or as a writer for a newspaper?

                  Strangely, at least in the cases

                  • by Mashiki ( 184564 )

                    Oh well done. How very smooth.

                    First you find one nutjob who calls them worse than ISIS (I've not checked---for sake of argument I won't dispute it). You then say "unfortunately isn't cherry picking one example." but move straight on to less and less and less extreme versions.

                    Makes it look like people comparing them to ISIS is common, without actually saying that. Very well done. Have you considered working as a spin doctor for a political party or as a writer for a newspaper?

                    Strangely, at least in the cases where the media has printed stuff on Birgingham I haven't seen them say that it's a Muslim only town.

                    Fox news don't have a print arm so that's not surprising.

                    In other words, you can't be bothered to look. Even if it's out there, especially when said nutjob has pull in the online media. And then I point out where said media is falling flat on it's face, but you don't seem to have a problem with the media lying through it's teeth. Maybe you can go look up the stuff written by NBC news, where a person named Izzy Galvez called gamergate "domestic terrorists."

                    But since people are, and are using rhetoric, maybe, perhaps, you should consider you're wrong. That's a

  • The article suggests people are much more willing to complain about meaningless issues now that they have a public audience.

    The article complains that people are much more willing to complain about meaningless issues now that they have a public audience.

  • Effect On Your Job (Score:5, Interesting)

    by stonetony ( 464331 ) on Monday November 16, 2015 @11:06AM (#50939801)

    Social media has created a new scary norm where that "nationwide media frenzy" (mob mentality) is the prosecutor, jury, and judge and your employer's fear of reputational risk is the executioner.

    It doesn't matter if you are right or wrong. Logic doesn't apply - only perception management.

    The new, widely-embraced form of discrimination is having an opinion different than that of the mob. Our laws need to adjust to form adequate civil protections.

    • Social media has created a new scary norm where that "nationwide media frenzy" (mob mentality) is the prosecutor, jury, and judge and your employer's fear of reputational risk is the executioner.

      It doesn't matter if you are right or wrong. Logic doesn't apply - only perception management.

      The new, widely-embraced form of discrimination is having an opinion different than that of the mob. Our laws need to adjust to form adequate civil protections.

      Yeah, we should amend the Constitution to ensure everyone has the freedom to express their opinion! ;-)

  • The level of entitlement people have today is overwhelming, and they're more than happy to share with you about how mad they are that Amazon sells "Fuck the Police" T-Shirts and how Starbucks doesn't have Christmas themed coffee cups anymore.

    Nobody gives a shit and neither should you, stop being so conceited.

    • The level of entitlement people have today is overwhelming, and they're more than happy to share with you about how mad they are that Amazon sells "Fuck the Police" T-Shirts and how Starbucks doesn't have Christmas themed coffee cups anymore.

      Nobody gives a shit and neither should you, stop being so conceited.

      I have been told that the less one pays attention to the stupidity around them, the happier one is. I'm working on implementing that. It's not easy.

      • I have been told that the less one pays attention to the stupidity around them, the happier one is. I'm working on implementing that. It's not easy.

        This couldn't be more true and your absolutely right.

        The more you know, the harder it is to sleep soundly at night.

  • If even the staunchly illiberal publications like New York Times and The Atlantic [theatlantic.com] complain about there being too many grievances, it must, indeed, be a real problem.

    A problem, they helped facilitate, I might add. Because, when people are simply pursuing happiness, one can get a (sorely mistaken!!) impression, everything is right in the land of Capitalism — so, if causes for real complaints are gone, we must dig deeper to rouse up new ones. Somebody complimented your demeanour? They must be RACIST [wordpress.com]!.. Girls learn belly-dancing — to stay fit and please their boyfriends? They are appropriating [salon.com]! And so on.

    • If even the staunchly illiberal publications like New York Times and The Atlantic [theatlantic.com] complain about there being too many grievances, it must, indeed, be a real problem.

      Nah. They just hate Festivus and are against the very principles this country's founders exposed in the Declaration of Independence. So, basically, they hate America.

      See, that was easy, wasn't it?

    • You're pretty fuckin' dense if you think anything is wrong with that blog post on calling black people "articulate". I mean, Chris Rock makes the same point, and isn't he the excuse you trot out for being allowed to say the n-word?

      To think it is in the same league as that whiny Salon article demonstrates why right-wingers need to keep their damn mouths shut when it comes to social justice issues. All they seem capable of doing is giving more ammunition to the SJWs.

      • You're pretty fuckin' dense if you think anything is wrong with that blog post on calling black people "articulate".

        Said the man, oops, the person, whose idea of "articulating" a point is to add curse-words to his/her/its/their speech.

        isn't he the excuse you trot out for being allowed to say the n-word?

        I don't need no negro's permission to say "negro", thank you very much. The word simply means "black" — as in "Negro Lives Matter" — and, incidentally, that's exactly, how Blacks are called in Ukrainian, Russian, and a whole host of other languages. It is perfectly neutral.

        right-wingers need to keep their damn mouths shut when it comes to social justice issues

        Oh, wow, maybe, you are articulate, after all! In one phrase you managed to violate all the rules:

        • against labeling [psychologytoday.com]
        • against othering [huffingtonpost.com]
        • against groupsplaining — a general term you haven't heard of yet, but should have no difficulty understanding

        I'm going on a hunger strike in protest — until Slashdot editors apologize and resign for fostering an environment, which allowed you to mentally-rape me with your angry speech. Safe Zone! Safe Zone! Safe Zone!!! Please don't hate...

  • Enjoying anger (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RogueyWon ( 735973 ) on Monday November 16, 2015 @11:09AM (#50939827) Journal

    I think a lot of this is driven by the fact that many people have realised, consciously or otherwise, that they enjoy being angry. That they get some sort of validation or self-worth from it.

    A few months back, I dropped out of participation in a TV/movies forum I'd been a member of for years, largely due to a growing trend in "hate watching". This is where people would pick a show they hated, sometimes for artistic reasons but more commonly for political reasons, watch it all the way through and post in great acerbic detail about everything they hated about it. This, of course, led to people who liked that show jumping in to defend it and launching their own retaliatory "hate watches" and meant that more or less every thread broke down into a flamewar.

    Previously, people had just not watched shows they didn't like beyond the first episode or two. Everything was a lot more live-and-let-live. Problem was, of course, the forum's moderators realised that the hate watch flamewars were producing masses and masses of page-views and therefore advertising views. So instead of trying to dampen things down, they did everything they could to encourage it.

    This is part of the problem; the current financial model for most of the web (and social media in particular) is based around ad-views. As anger and outrage lead to lots of page-views, the financial incentive is to keep people in a state of perpetual quivering outrage.

    That's just part of the explanation, of course. I'd look to colleges for most of the rest.

  • by jvp ( 27996 ) on Monday November 16, 2015 @11:17AM (#50939891)

    Back in the early 90s when websites were just being created and foisted upon us (yes, kids, there was an Internet (long) before there was a slashdot!) a funny and insightful friend said this, "I don't know about this new World Wide Web thing. It's going to make people think they're a resource." Blogs are one realization of her forecast. I see social media (and all the crap that goes on it) as another form of it.

    Did she ever call *that* one!

  • You mean, kinda like this [priceonomics.com]?

    Now, we're not ones to go round spreadin' rumors
    Why really, we're just not the gossipy kind!
    Oh, you'll never hear one of us repeating gossip!
    So you'd better be sure and listen close the first time.

    • Thanks for posting that.

      I was thinking today, listening even to NPR is really distracting. What gets sold for news these days should be called "machine gun journalism". The solution is to listen to national news only when it affects you personally, which is probably on average about once a year. Listen to local stations that inform people (not editorialize) about local issues. The SAME issues until they either stagnate or change. Of course, nothing like that exists any more in the United States.

  • being a crybaby for the most part. Twitter & FB, have been 2 of the WORST things, for the most part, for the entire world. It's a prime example (for the USA) why the founding fathers were INTELLIGENT to set up our country, as a representative republic, and NOT an outright democracy. Democracy is nothing but touchy feely emotional rule. Use Ferguson as a prime example. FB, twitter blew up about how a white police officer, killed a "poor misunderstood gentle giant" who was running away from the officer.
  • Festivus - isn't it the season for airing of grievances?

  • People are mostly part of one big stupid herd and social media allows them to increase the effectiveness and collusion of that herd. #NewsAtEleven
  • "Vegan On His Way To The Complain Store"
  • Just because an issue is "meaningless" for you, doesn't imply it has no value for others.

    • Just because an issue is "meaningless" for you, doesn't imply it has no value for others.

      Theres the good old 'reasonable person' test.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I know liberals say it isn't happening, but there is a faction of the left that hates everything traditional in American life. This is how you get claims such as "the nuclear family is a an American conservative invention", despite the fact that every society has families like this.

    Alternatively, there are some people who just want to put up a tree with ornaments while there are far more religious people who want Christmas to be specifically about Jesus (they would in fact complain about materialism taking

  • I have an older friend who was a refugee in WWII. She was staffed by the Luftwaffe at one point and had to flee the Soviets later on. When she came to the U.S. after the war, one of the jobs she had was dealing with jerks on the phone in an office in NY city.

    Someone asked her how she could stay so calm on the job. She told them that the assholes on the phone were NOTHING, she had been attacked by professionals.

    • by Falos ( 2905315 )
      Hey dumbass, if someone is really really RUDE the phone's tiny audio speaker could explode catastrophically.

      In fact, I'm pretty sure these pixels on my screen are about to toilet paper my house. I wish I could just turn it off or change to another tab.

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